How To Find 401k For Someone Who Is Deceased

Shawn Plummer, CRPC

Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor

Find Unclaimed Property

The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) reports that a minimum of one in every ten Americans possesses unclaimed assets, including those from 401(k) accounts. To find a 401(k) plan belonging to someone who has passed away, reach out to their previous employer, utilize online search tools, explore the Department of Labor’s database for abandoned plans, and access the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits are effective strategies. Utilizing these avenues can assist in locating and reclaiming lost or unclaimed 401(k) assets.

How To Find 401K For Someone Who Is Deceased

Contacting the Former Employer

One strategy to find a deceased person’s 401(k) plan is to contact their former employer. Gather as much information as possible about the deceased person’s former employer and reach out to the human resources department or the plan administrator. They may have records or information about the person’s retirement plan that can help you locate the 401(k) assets. Sometimes, the deceased person may have missed out on notifications from their former employer, so it’s important to proactively reach out for information.

Checking Old 401(k) Statements

To locate the 401(k) assets of a deceased family member or friend, begin by looking for any of their old 401(k) statements, which are usually issued to plan participants annually through email or postal mail. An old statement will provide crucial details, such as the employer’s name or the plan administrator’s contact information, guiding you on whom to approach about the 401(k) assets. In the absence of such statements, contacting the deceased individual’s former coworkers to inquire about the employer’s contact details can also prove beneficial.

Using the DOL’s Abandoned Plan Database

If a company ceases operations, it must inform participants of its 401(k) plan, enabling them to claim any due funds. Should the deceased not have received such notification, the Department of Labor’s Abandoned Plan Search offers a valuable resource for locating a lost 401(k). This tool permits searches by either the plan name or the employer’s name, delivering details about the plan administrator for direct contact about the unclaimed assets.

Using The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC)

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is a federal agency that provides protection for individuals enrolled in defined benefit pension plans in the United States. One of the critical services offered by the PBGC is helping beneficiaries find missing pensions for deceased individuals. Through their searchable database available on the PBGC’s website, beneficiaries can locate unclaimed pension benefits they may be entitled to, ensuring that pensions owed to them by their deceased relatives are not lost. This service underscores the PBGC’s broader mission to safeguard retirement incomes and provide timely and reliable access to pension benefits.

National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits

The National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits (NRURB) is a valuable resource in the search for unclaimed 401(k) assets associated with a deceased individual. By utilizing the deceased person’s Social Security Number (SSN), you can conduct a thorough search for any retirement plans linked to their SSN. If the search yields results, you will be provided with the necessary contact information for the plan administrator. From there, you can directly reach out to the plan administrator to initiate the process of reclaiming the unclaimed funds.

Upon contacting the plan administrator, they will provide you with a benefit election form. This form allows you to make important decisions regarding how you would like to receive the unclaimed funds. Carefully consider your options, such as a lump sum payment or the establishment of a new retirement account, and complete the benefit election form accordingly.

It is important to note that if the search through the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits returns no information, it may indicate that the deceased individual’s employer has not registered with the registry. In such cases, exploring alternative search methods, such as contacting the former employer directly or utilizing other resources mentioned in this article, is recommended.


In conclusion, locating 401(k) accounts for deceased individuals requires proactive efforts and the use of various resources. Tools like online databases can help track down lost assets. Furthermore, reaching out to former employers and checking old 401(k) statements can provide valuable information. Once the assets are recovered, it is important to consider options for managing them, such as rollovers into a current employer’s plan or an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). To make informed decisions about your retirement savings strategy, always consult with a qualified financial planner. Contact us for a quote today

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Shawn Plummer, CRPC

Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor

Shawn Plummer is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor, insurance agent, and annuity broker with over 14 years of first-hand experience with annuities and insurance. Since beginning his journey in 2009, he has been pivotal in selling and educating about annuities and insurance products. Still, he has also played an instrumental role in training financial advisors for a prestigious Fortune Global 500 insurance company, Allianz. His insights and expertise have made him a sought-after voice in the industry, leading to features in renowned publications such as Time Magazine, Bloomberg, Entrepreneur, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, Women’s Health Magazine, and many more. Shawn’s driving ambition? To simplify retirement planning, he ensures his clients understand their choices and secure the best insurance coverage at unbeatable rates.

The Annuity Expert is an independent online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. The goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning and find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates

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